In a sense, anything can be a pet toy. Seeing your cat bat around a bread bag tie or your dog chew on a stick hammers that message home quite succinctly. But the truth is that not all pet toys are safe, nor do they automatically offer a level of stimulation that’s beneficial to your pets. But how do you choose the right toy for your dog or cat? You may walk down the toy aisle at the pet store and feel overwhelmed at the number of stuffed, rubber, and nylon toys available.

dog with a toy

We are a group of pet-loving people and know exactly how you feel! Toys are important in any animal’s life because they add enrichment and prevent boredom. For you, this means a happier pet and a calmer household. When purchasing toys, though, you want to avoid ones that can cause harm and gravitate towards the ones that can bring the most joy and value to your pet.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what to consider when choosing toys for your furry friends.

What Kind of Chewer Do You Have On Your Hands?

Chances are you’ve met children who rip the arms and legs off every doll they are given. Other children cherish the toys and care for them like they are made of gold. Dogs can be the same! 

Some dogs enjoy chewing a toy until it turns into a thousand tiny pieces. Others prefer to carry their favorite toy gently in their mouth and take it everywhere they go. Knowing your dog is the first step in selecting the material the toy is made out of.

If you have a dog that wants to annihilate any toy you give him, look for toys made of hard rubber. There are different brands on the market that even label their pets according to the strength of the chewer. Others guarantee that your dog can’t destroy their toys and if they do — they are replaced. 

You may be tempted to purchase a hard nylon toy or even an antler for these avid chewers. We urge you to reconsider. Powerful chewers with a toy that has no give to it mean the potential for fractured teeth!

Light chewers have a wider range of toys available: rubber toys, gummy nylon toys, stuffed animals, and more! Try one of each and see what your dog prefers — you’ll know fairly quickly which type is the clear winner.

Are There Behaviors You Are Trying To Prevent or Curb?

A bored pet is a destructive pet. A pet that has anxiety when its owners leave can be the same. Certain types of dogs need almost constant mental stimulation to live a happy life. The type of behaviors you want to curb, prevent or even encourage is something else to consider. No matter what behavior you are dealing with or trying to avoid, there are enrichment toys on the market that are perfect for your needs.

Beehive-shaped rubber toys, often sold under the KONG brand name, can be stuffed with peanut butter, kibble, or other tasty treats and then given to your dog to work on. Your cat may even enjoy a small version of this type of toy stuffed with their favorite treat. Side note — stuff a toy with peanut butter and put it in the freezer! It will last longer when you give it to your friend.

There are puzzle toys available for both dogs and cats that stimulate the mind. Start with a puzzle toy that looks fairly simple and then build up to those that are more complicated. Your pet’s mind will constantly be challenged.

What if you have a dog or cat that eats too quickly? Maybe you just want to combine enrichment with mealtime. Puzzle bowls and feeders are what you are looking for. These both slow your pet’s eating and challenge their brains. You can find these bowls in almost any size and maze shape. You can also find kibble-dispensing toys — often called treat balls or treat cubes — to use at mealtime instead of a traditional bowl.

Will The Toys Be Inside or Outside?

One more thing to consider that some people don’t and then wish they had: Will your pet be using the toy inside or out in the yard?

Pay attention to how your dog plays. If they grab a toy, shake their heads, and then let the toy fly, you don’t want to give them anything solid to play within the house (only if this is a habit of course). Imagine that hard toy flying into your television!

Does your pet love stuffed toys? Leaving one outside in the rain will certainly ruin it. There are toys designed to be used outside and those designed to be used inside. Buy the right toy for your purposes so you don’t waste your money or end up with broken electronics!

Avoid Choking Hazards and Unsafe Materials

With enough chewing enthusiasm, any toy could potentially splinter and become a choking hazard. This is true for cats, as well, since they may sometimes play with a toy until it comes apart.

For both types of animals, you want to avoid toys that have long bits of thin string, rope, or elastic. These can all be swallowed and get tangled up in your pet’s digestive system. Cats, in particular, can tend to eat up anything string-shaped, so if you do buy a teaser wand that makes use of elastic, keep a close eye on its condition. If the elastic parts start to come off or your cat starts to chew on the elastic rather than the toy, replace the toy before that elastic ends up in their belly!

With any toy, once it has started to wear out into its material parts, it’s time to throw it away. That’s especially true for stuffed toys. In fact, if your dog’s the type to pull out stuffing and begin swallowing it, then you will need to look for stuffless toys and other alternatives.

Avoid any chewable dog toys that can splinter into hard or sharp pieces. That definitely includes plastics, but it can also apply to accessories that may be attached to the toy.

Overall, diligent supervision is the name of the game. Watch your animal as they play, and observe toys you see laying around the house for signs of wear. If a particular toy seems like it poses a health hazard, take it away immediately and replace it with something safer.

Greenlin Can Enrich The Life Of Your Pet

At Greenlin, we know that an enriched pet is a calm pet. We know that when your pet’s mind is stimulated and they are given the opportunity to play, they are less destructive, less anxious, and easier to live with.

If you have to go to work or are planning a holiday, don’t leave your precious pets behind! Give them a vacation of their own with our fantastic staff. We promise to treat your pets like members of our own family so you won’t have a care in the world. We offer dog daycare, pet boarding for dogs and cats, and classes that can change the life of your pet. Reach out today or find a location near you to inquire about our services. We are always happy to answer your questions and book your pet’s next big outing!